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Worship Preview 1.22.23 "Growing in..."

Press Release: for Jan. 21, 2023 edition.

First United Methodist Church

This Weekend: Sunday at 10:30am “Growing in Christ: Being Conformed to the image…” Scriptures: Luke 2:39-40 & 51-52, Ephesians 4:1-16,Colossians 1:3-14, Philippians 2:5-8– with Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching.

One of the things I most appreciate about the mission statement of First UMC Fort Scott is its emphasis on “growing in Christ.” We are not called to static answers but to lived faith that grows, evolves, expands, becomes ever more Christlike, being, as the definition of Spiritual Formation I shared last week says: “conformed to the image of Christ”. The Scriptures we’ll hear this week talk about the mystery of Jesus. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel – the eternal Word become flesh. In the two great hymns of Colossians 1 and Philippians 2, we hear about how Jesus is the perfect “image of the invisible God" – fully divine and sovereign, revealing the perfect and holy fullness of God. And in Philippians, we hear how that perfect divinity humbles himself, being obedient even unto death on a cross. Putting all this together challenges us – God, even revealed in Jesus, is more than we can fully comprehend. Add to that then the message of Luke 2:39-40 and 51-52. This Jesus grew. He learned, developed, truly lived a human life. It is amazing.

I shared recently an insight I once heard from Dr. Tom Albin, then Dean of the Upper Room – who asked a gathering I was at “if we are to be like Christ - when are we done growing?” If we are to follow Christ, let alone be like Christ, we too must learn and grow in wisdom, in faith and in service. We must grow in humility and obedience. And yet we are all gifted differently – Ephesians emphasizes that some are called to one path or way of living out their discipleship, some to another. All of us called to grow throughout our lives – building on the foundation of Christ. I find that exciting.

Knowing Christ is more than an intellectual assent, it's a transformed heart, a soul filled with the power and fullness of Christ – a willingness to grow! John Wesley, an Anglican priest and the founder of Methodism, struggled with his faith, until one day his "heart was strangely warmed" at a Moravian prayer meeting. Wesley suddenly understood God's love and grace, revealed through Christ, in a new, more complete way.

But that wasn't the end of his journey, it was really just the beginning - he spent the rest of his life seeking to grow, serve and share because of his experience of God's grace. Wesley's journey sparked a movement. We at First UMC seek to help each other along a similar journey ofgrowingfaith.

No matter where you are on your own journey of faith, you are invited to join in worship and celebration at 10:30am at 301 S. National, coming just as you are, with your questions, doubts and hopes - and to experience the transformative, healing love and grace of Christ - which makes us whole. Visit www.firstumcfsks.org/newvisitors for more information on what to expect.

Upcoming Events: Wednesday, Jan. 25, 5:30pm Feeding Families in His Name – this weekly free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. We are thankful for all the volunteers from other area churches and community groups that make this meal possible each week.

We at First UMC are delighted to partner with the Healthy Bourbon County Action Team and K-State Extension to host a class “Eating Smart and Saving Money” – see the HBCAT Facebook page for information on how to register.

Mark your calendar for our next “Shepherd’s Center: Adventures in Learning” event coming March 10th!


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